Unlike des Esseintes’ tortoise, gold-plated
alive and inlaid with jewels, and too heavy to move,
she had a plan. Between each ‘pang’
when the world’s contracting thus
and the mind obliterated
flits inside just—she would think of some things:

The micro-biome grazing on her plains still blissful.
The crisp, clean hole in the dome of the Pantheon,
negatively faithful to the weathers of itself.
The genetic bottleneck, late Middle Stone Age,
when humans dwindled to thousands
and made it through.

Or there’s always surrender’s victory,
a fallen horse across her lower half, a peace imposed
like rain upon her face,
and a looming gentleman’s promise
of sweet treaties, quick stitches.
The possibility of slapstick so soon after,
the possibility of after.

She’d think of Lawrence and Hardy
with their stripped descriptors:
restrained she’d scream and then be
a part-worked part-wild ‘Earth, gape!’ type field.
Her safe words,
someone labour me.

Then everyone is there with flowers,
the flowers dropped into vases
and shuddering upon landing, facing
every other way as the stranger drinks his fill.
Without a plan in the world she is there too.